Enron Bet on Global Warming!!
Jude Wanniski
January 15, 2002


Memo To: Greenies of the Globe
From: Jude Wanniski
Re: Your Cash Cow Has Run Dry

How sad it must be for you folks to see Enron go down the tubes. The cash it spread far and wide to promote its interests kept you in clover, it looks like, but now it is no more. The cash cow is most sincerely dead. I'd already noticed that the noise about global warming being a distinct threat to the commonweal had diminished, and wondered why. Now that I've been sniffing around the Enron carcass, trying to figure out exactly what it did get for all its lobbying cash, I read in The Washington Post of December 24 the following interesting tidbit:

But with the explosive growth of Enron and the GOP takeover of Congress in 1995, the company's soft-money donations -- unregulated and unlimited gifts to political parties and organizations -- jumped sharply. They went from about $136,000 in the 1993-94 election cycle, to $687,000 in 1996 and $1.7 million in 2000, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

For all its connections, sources say, Enron often found Washington frustratingly slow and unreliable. The company placed a substantial bet on federal support for limits on the greenhouse gases causing global warming. Enron officials hoped to exploit a new market in industry for carbon-emissions credits, similar to the one that developed for sulpher credits after clean-air legislation was enacted in 1990.

[Enron Chairman Kenneth] Lay joined the Union of Concerned Scientists and environmental groups in calling for curbs on carbon in the atmosphere. The Clinton administration was supportive, but this year the Bush administration reneged on a campaign pledge to impose limits on greenhouse gas emissions from coal-burning power plants.

Now I have known for a long, long time that global warming is a Giant Hoax perpetrated by special interests who see it as a way to make megabucks. All you need is a big enough megaphone to scare little old ladies and small children in grade school, and you might also bag a President of the United States. I'm not anti-environment and am always willing to pay up for clean air and water and streets, but I know a hoax when I see one, and know there is generally a giant corporation lurking somewhere about with a big bag of money. I remember one dilly that smoked past me so fast I did not realize it happened until it was over. It was all about CFCs, the chlorofluorocarbons that are emitted when a lady sprays her hair and Freon is used in fridges and air-conditioners. One day we had not even heard about CFCs and the next day Time magazine informed us, in a February 1992 cover story, that an "ozone hole" had opened up over North America. The CFCs were the culprits!! An emergency session of the Senate was convened and after Senator Al Gore declared ozone depletion to be "the greatest crisis humanity has ever faced" warning that "our children...must begin to think of the sky as a threatening part of the environment," the Senate voted 96-to-0 to accelerate the abolition of CFCs. You can read about all this in Gregg Easterbrook's book, A Moment on the Earth, which I heartily recommend. Easterbrook goes on to say: Except for the quotations, dates and the margin of the Senate vote, nothing in the above paragraph turned out to be true. No Northern Hemisphere ozone hole has ever been detected..." Oh well, it turned out just fine for Du Pont, which had been promoting the deadly ozone hole, as Du Pont had the perfect substitutes for the outlawed CFCs.

Whenever I see "tax credits" being promoted to solve some new environmental problem, I reach for my wallet, as almost certainly there is some new hoax being generated by you greenies, backed by a Fortune 500 sugar daddy. Back when I was writing energy editorials for The Wall Street Journal 25 years ago, I remember Mobil Oil suddenly discovering that it did not after all oppose price controls on oil, but thought they were a good idea. Why? Because of the way the credits and oil tickets were being distributed, Mobil found it had a windfall gain over its competitors. When the big guys want to milk the taxpayer and find that cow has gone dry, they come up with tax credits and vouchers to squeeze the cash out another way.

Gosh knows what you will do now, my dear concerned scientists and global greenies. With Enron gone, a big ozone hole has opened up in your bank accounts. Don't worry. I hear a new ice age may be upon us, at least in Buffalo. Another corporate sugar daddy will be along.